ADHD drugs and risk of heart disease

September 17, 2007

The number of children on anti depressants and other behaviour altering drugs has quadrupled in the last ten years. In 2005 GP’s wrote more than 631,000 prescriptions for drugs such as Prozac to under 16′s as against 146,00 in the mid 1990′s. This disturbing trend sees drugs being the first line in the situation instead of other options such as counselling which might be more appropriate. In line with the fact that the use of Ritalin to control stress and aggressive behaviour in children has also increased tenfold in the same period, there is a timely study being undertaken in the USA to look at the potential heart risks from medicines used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in collaboration with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, will examine clinical data of about 500,000 children and adults who have taken ADHD drugs, including Ritalin. The analysis is expected to take about two years and will include all drugs currently marketed for treating ADHD. There are millions of people taking these medicines worldwide and it is known they can increase heart rate and blood pressure, and this has raised concerns they may therefore raise the risk of heart attacks, strokes or other cardiovascular problems. There have been cases reported of heart problems in both adults and children who receive drug treatment for ADHD, but these patients have had known underlying risk factors. What is not known is whether or not these events are directly related to the drug treatment and the study hopes to get further information to protect from potential risks from heart disease.


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